Proposed seminar "Reading Marx globally" at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), March 16-19, 2023 in Chicago, IL
“In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.” (Manifesto of the Communist Party)
Marx conceptualized capitalism in relation to the global, and readings of Marx have had lasting political, economic, and intellectual consequences all over the world. At the same time, the global character of Marx’s thought has always been problematic. On the one hand, Marx and Marxism represent a certain displacement of Eurocentrism, on the other hand, they remain restricted by it. This tension is already present in the famous opening of the Manifesto, which imagines a global reader when unfolding the principles of communism “in the face of the whole world,” while the specter’s haunting ground remains decidedly European. As Cedric Robinson put it, “Eurocentrism [...] worked to constrict Marx’s imaginary,” leading to Marxism’s “profound but ambiguous indebtedness to Western Civilization” (Robinson, 1983). This ambiguity, however, also makes for the continuous necessity of asking “the question of global Marxism” (Spivak, 2018) and opens the possibility of rethinking the Marxist critique of political economy in terms of a new “ecological imperative” (Spivak, 1999).
This seminar explores the problem of the global in Marx and traces the global trajectories of Marxian and Marxist thought from the 19th century to the present. We invite participants to explore the Marxist corpus as a part of world literature, and the problem of the global in Marx as a problem of reading. What would a “new and variously globalized politics of reading” (Spivak, 1999) look like vis-à-vis the Marxist text? In an age of planetary financialization, climate disaster, and resurgent nationalism, what does it mean to read Marx “in the face of the world,” to borrow the Manifesto’s phrasing? Last but not least, what are the politics of translating Marx and reading Marx in translation?
Topics include but are not limited to the following:
- Critical readings of the global and its limits in Marx and Marxism
- The global reception of Marx, especially in the “global South”
- Marx in translation
- Subalternity and Marxism
- Black Marxism
- Indigenous critiques of Marx and Marxism
- Postcolonial readings of Marx
- Marxism, (anti-)colonialism, and (anti-)imperialism
- Intersections of class, caste, and race in Marxist and post-Marxist thought
- Displacements of the rural-urban dichotomy
- Marxism and non-Western feminism
- Theories of racial capitalism
- Modifications of Marx’ primitive accumulation thesis
- Marxist theories of world literature
- Marxism and ecology
Format: Applications from all career stages are welcome, from graduate students to early career to established scholars.
Application: You must apply through the ACLA Application Portal. The seminar application consists of submitting the title, an abstract of your proposed contribution, and a short bio.